I am an aspiring author by night, and a content writer/ social media manager by day. I owe much of what I do, and have become, to networking online. There are many reasons why networking is never a waste.
When I first became involved in the online writing community, I had people in my personal life question me as to why I was investing so much time in “strangers I would never meet.” The payback on this investment has been more than I initially imagined, as far as new friends, critique partners, and inspiration—but also in another area I didn’t anticipate—potential clients.
This has been the most valuable return on my time invested in online networking. I have gained friendships with people who now know me better than I know me. They are not just colleagues or people I work for/ with, but family. Friends, who hear I am looking to expand my client list, and either say, “hey, I can always use some good help,” or “I know someone who needs…” There is nothing more precious in this world than the people who have your back, and those of the cyber form totally count!
The Internet is good for many things, but staying on top of industry trends is one of the greater items. The writing industry is forever changing, just like most industries. Following agents and successful authors is a way to stay in the know. Social media, another area I work in, is constantly changing as well, so following certain social media authorities is another important thing for me to do. Over the years, I have worked with pioneers in Indie publishing, media, and local businesses, who are not just clients, but who have also become friends, and it has been a priceless way for me to “stay in school,” so to speak. I learn so much from these men and women, and they have inspired me in many ways, encouraging me to do greater things with my career—it’s beyond a paycheck. That’s the cool thing about most successful people—they want others to succeed as well.
I am a single mom who works from home. Needless to say, I don’t get out much. It can be a lonely thing—and writing, even more lonesome. Luckily, we live in an amazing age of technology that allows me to never totally be alone, regardless of my working situation. Thanks to cyber networking, I have a handful of colleagues and friends just a mouse click away, willing to offer support, advice, or just a break to unwind and chat.
This is another benefit of cyber networking that you can’t put a dollar amount on. I have always enjoyed listening to people tell me their stories, perhaps that comes with being a writer, but as humans, we have this gift of communication and comprehension that allows us to save ourselves from the misfortune of others, and to learn how to best approach a task. I love finding successful people around me and trying to figure out what they did right, and if I can tailor any of it to my own situation and journey. Successful people surround us, and more often than not, they are willing to give positive tips, or you can just learn from watching what they do (um, in a non-creepy manner).
This usually doesn’t (and shouldn’t) come until you are open to the other listed benefits of online networking. There has been, on occasion, a client who stumbles upon me online, but they have almost always been sent to me via a happy client I already have, or a friend. Business relationships are still relationships, and people are at the root of that. More important than business, or money, is the way that you make a person feel, and the way that you interact with them. Every market is saturated with plenty of people looking for work, so clients have the pick of the litter in hiring someone. I try to set myself apart by being thorough, meeting and beating deadlines, pricing myself reasonably, and truly getting to know my clients so I can anticipate their needs, and just doing my best to be good to them. What goes around comes around.
If and when I do decide to self-publish a book, I have at my fingertips, a range of choices of talented editors, proofreaders, cover artists, graphic designers… the list goes on. I also have the cool edge of knowing these people more than I would someone I heard of from word of mouth, following their own journey, sometimes even seeing samples of their work, etc. If and when I am ever ready to expand my brand or hire help, I will know what to look for, just from speaking with my clients, seeing what they have gone through, along with my own experiences, but you better believe I will try to hire from that same cyber water cooler, ask for referrals from my networking buddies, and return there, countless times for advice!
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